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Arthur Capone 02-05-2007 09:02 PM

I Need Aikido ?'s Answered PLEASE!
 
Hey Everybody!

I'm 32 years old, took Aikido when I was 12, and have recently been checking out two highly respected Aikido schools in NYC, watching classes and wanting to get back in it! I've been a fan of O'Sensei's writings, films, read Terry Dobson and George Leonard books, belive in the existence of KI, and have zero interest in hurting anybody and want to take Aikido to revolutionize my life, as so many people have said happens when they take it. I'm in it for the long haul. I have also read that long thread in here regarding how Aikido is supposedly not effective in a street fight, and loved and was educated by all of your astute answers.

OK, here's my question: I notice that most martial arts schools I have been to (Hapkido, Jujitsu, Kung Fu, etc.) all say that they teach "self-defense". If someone attacks you on the street, these schools say that you can "defend yourself" and/or "stop the assailants". These schools use real-life situational offensive strategies (straight punches, roundhouses, chokes, pushes, takedowns) for the student to DEFEND with the kata/moves of the martial art, as a result of this promise to teach self-defense.

I have been, so far, to two highly respected schools and watched 3 classes at each location. All of the attacks with which you are to defend at both schools are either a chopping down (like a sword) coming down on your head, or a chopping at the waist. I know that O'Sensei came from a sword culture. But why are teachers making moves like this in order for us to learn Aikido against when, in the real world, people DON'T ATTACK LIKE THAT!? I understand it's a spiritual martial art, but I feel like this is being TOO esoteric. Is this why Tomiki was invented?

It makes me hesitant to take the course. Maybe I'm an idiot. Maybe I don't get it. But while I want to dedicate my life to an art like Aikido, I also want to be able to defend myself if some guy or guys mess with me.

You guys rock! Set my verdant ass straight!

Cheers,

Arthur :p

xuzen 02-05-2007 09:36 PM

Re: I Need Aikido ?'s Answered PLEASE!
 
Quote:

Arthur Capone wrote:
Hey Everybody!

I'm 32 years old, took Aikido when I was 12, and have recently been checking out two highly respected Aikido schools in NYC, watching classes and wanting to get back in it! I've been a fan of O'Sensei's writings, films, read Terry Dobson and George Leonard books, belive in the existence of KI, and have zero interest in hurting anybody and want to take Aikido to revolutionize my life, as so many people have said happens when they take it. I'm in it for the long haul. I have also read that long thread in here regarding how Aikido is supposedly not effective in a street fight, and loved and was educated by all of your astute answers.

OK, here's my question: I notice that most martial arts schools I have been to (Hapkido, Jujitsu, Kung Fu, etc.) all say that they teach "self-defense". If someone attacks you on the street, these schools say that you can "defend yourself" and/or "stop the assailants". These schools use real-life situational offensive strategies (straight punches, roundhouses, chokes, pushes, takedowns) for the student to DEFEND with the kata/moves of the martial art, as a result of this promise to teach self-defense.

I have been, so far, to two highly respected schools and watched 3 classes at each location. All of the attacks with which you are to defend at both schools are either a chopping down (like a sword) coming down on your head, or a chopping at the waist. I know that O'Sensei came from a sword culture. But why are teachers making moves like this in order for us to learn Aikido against when, in the real world, people DON'T ATTACK LIKE THAT!? I understand it's a spiritual martial art, but I feel like this is being TOO esoteric. Is this why Tomiki was invented?

It makes me hesitant to take the course. Maybe I'm an idiot. Maybe I don't get it. But while I want to dedicate my life to an art like Aikido, I also want to be able to defend myself if some guy or guys mess with me.

You guys rock! Set my verdant ass straight!

Cheers,

Arthur :p

Aikido is higly influenced by Ko-Ryu (Ancient schools) methodology and paedogology. If you want something else, take up jujutsu... it is faster to get you combat ready. Then return to aikido... you will view it being less silly by then.

Boon.

Aristeia 02-05-2007 09:37 PM

Re: I Need Aikido ?'s Answered PLEASE!
 
I admit to being a little confused by your post. On the one hand you say you have zero interest in hurting people and it sounds like you are interested in aikido for personal transfromation rather than martial application. And yet you're hesitant to train because you think the attacks are unrealistic?

Think of Aikido as more an art of concepts rather than techniques. Where as some arts offer a comprehensive "if he does this you do that, if he does this variation you do that variation" type approach, Aikido offers a series of exercises to help you internalise the conept of "aiki" which may then be brought to bear in an endless variety of situtions. It's about accepting and leading energy. In most dojos that energy is provided by the traditional attacks but the theory is once you understand how to blend with and redirect energy the angle in specific nature of it is less important.

There is some debate as to how well that theory works in reality.

And for my money, no one should be advertising self defence unless they themselves ahve used the techniques in a range of actual physical confrontations.

Arthur Capone 02-05-2007 09:45 PM

Re: I Need Aikido ?'s Answered PLEASE!
 
Great points, Michael! Don't be confused by the post. I really don't want to hurt anyone, not learning it to jump in a UFC ring or anything. :)

Arthur Capone 02-05-2007 09:49 PM

Re: I Need Aikido ?'s Answered PLEASE!
 
"""Where as some arts offer a comprehensive "if he does this you do that, if he does this variation you do that variation" type approach, Aikido offers a series of exercises to help you internalise the conept of "aiki" which may then be brought to bear in an endless variety of situtions. It's about accepting and leading energy."""

I wonder what Aikido training would be like, and how quiet naysayers of Aikido would be, if Aikido schools changed the way they do attack variations? Lots of people say Aikido isn't effective (I don't believe that myself) and it may have to do with their "old school" approach. But whatever...

Aristeia 02-05-2007 09:57 PM

Re: I Need Aikido ?'s Answered PLEASE!
 
yep, and a search through Aikiweb will find a fair bit of discussion on that topic. At the end of the day though I don't think it matters much. You can sub the attacks we do use for a straight punch, a hook etc etc. but people still won't be satisfied because we'll still be telling people to do them with 100% commitment in an isolated fashion rather than dealing with someone who wants to jab and move like a sparring sessions. Because sparring is not what Aikido was designed to deal with.

Arthur Capone 02-05-2007 10:14 PM

Re: I Need Aikido ?'s Answered PLEASE!
 
""yep, and a search through Aikiweb will find a fair bit of discussion on that topic...Because sparring is not what Aikido was designed to deal with.""

So, in your opinion, if someone wants to hurt me, lifts their fists up in a boxing stance, and starts trying to hit me, Aikido is not able to deal with this?

Arthur Capone 02-05-2007 10:17 PM

Re: I Need Aikido ?'s Answered PLEASE!
 
IN other words... I know that Aikido is effective if someone grabs your wrist, grabs YOU (all the Aikido I have seen first starts off with the Aikidoist grabbing the wrist or arm; it's much easier to do this when someone grabs you first, keeps their hand near your face threateningly, etc.), but what about dealing with a fast puncher, someone who hauls off and punches fast, which is what most people I have known do in a street altercation (or move their hand quickly with a bottle or knife in it)? Am I making ANY sense?

Aristeia 02-05-2007 10:28 PM

Re: I Need Aikido ?'s Answered PLEASE!
 
It's not a matter of people punching hard or fast. Where I think Aikido works well is when someone is so ticked off with you they throw a punch designed to take your head off. Full commitment and emotional intent.

Where it's less good is in a sparring situation. Someone dancing around throwing uncommited strikes, taking their time, looking for an opening. Not what it's designed to cope with. Having said that, that style of fighting is predicated on two people standing in front of each other fighting by mutual consent. So simply leaving at that point may well be an option.

Or, do BJJ ;-)

Nafis Zahir 02-06-2007 12:09 AM

Re: I Need Aikido ?'s Answered PLEASE!
 
I was recently at a seminar where a high ranking Shihan was grabbed with a straight hand grab attack. He then asked everyone watching, "Why do we practice techniques from this type of attack, when this is not a realistic attack (paraphrased)?" No one had an answer, it was a question we all have asked at one point or another. He then asked a second time and received no response. Then, he told us why. He said, "We practice this way in order to better understand the intention of your opponent's attack." Now I did not understand it 100%, but it made a great deal of sense to me.

Also, practicing from the attacks we receive, which are controlled, makes it easier to deal with attacks that are out of control. I have done a couple of techniques to a few of my friends who street fight, do karate or wrestle, and I must say that I could have really put it on them. But because they don't anything about Aikido and can't take ukemi, I had to let up and also let them think that whatever I was doing didn't work. Hope this helps to answer your question.

Aristeia 02-06-2007 01:02 AM

Re: I Need Aikido ?'s Answered PLEASE!
 
wrist grabs are good for teaching funadmental movements without having to deal with timing the strike. I do tend to think we spend too much time on wrist grabs, they have their place but think it tends to be overdone, particularly for senior grades.

Arthur Capone 02-06-2007 02:00 AM

Re: I Need Aikido ?'s Answered PLEASE!
 
Quote:

Nafis Zahir wrote:
I was recently at a seminar where a high ranking Shihan was grabbed with a straight hand grab attack. He then asked everyone watching, "Why do we practice techniques from this type of attack, when this is not a realistic attack (paraphrased)?"

Wait, I'm confused. Are you saying the Shihan said that a straight hand grab attack WAS or WAS NOT a realisitic attack? :blush:

Aristeia 02-06-2007 02:12 AM

Re: I Need Aikido ?'s Answered PLEASE!
 
it's not a realistic attack but it's a useful exercise to teach concepts.

Michael Varin 02-06-2007 02:55 AM

Re: I Need Aikido ?'s Answered PLEASE!
 
There are many principles contained within the techniques of aikido, but the notion that the various attacks are simply there to teach general principle is highly suspect. You won't learn how to deal with punches to the face by training against wrist grabs. I trained for quite some time in kick boxing and we never worked with wrist grabs, not even in the first class. You appear to have answered your own question:

Quote:

Arthur Capone wrote:
All of the attacks with which you are to defend at both schools are either a chopping down (like a sword) coming down on your head, or a chopping at the waist. I know that O'Sensei came from a sword culture. But why are teachers making moves like this in order for us to learn Aikido against when, in the real world, people DON'T ATTACK LIKE THAT!?

Form follows function. The techniques of aikido don't work well against common barehanded attacks, because that is not what they were designed for. In the "real world" that gave birth to these techniques, people did attack like that. They carried swords and knives, and needed techniques that worked in that environment. Even if you were to use aiki with common barehanded attacks it wouldn't look like aikido . . . it would look like Roy Jones Jr. in his prime.

You also should be clear on your motivations.
Quote:

Arthur Capone wrote:
[i] have zero interest in hurting anybody and want to take Aikido to revolutionize my life
But while I want to dedicate my life to an art like Aikido, I also want to be able to defend myself if some guy or guys mess with me.

I say, quit thinking about it. Join a dojo. Train at least three times per week for three months, then see how you feel.

Aristeia 02-06-2007 03:36 AM

Re: I Need Aikido ?'s Answered PLEASE!
 
well I did say there was some debate about it but that was the theory. I'm not sure you should be comparing a punch to the face with a wrist grab - a tsuki or one of the uchi's would seem more appropriate. But stil it's up for debate - my own preference would be to see more realistic attacks. Having said that I know plenty of people that have "used" aikido based on the traditional attacks.
Personally I think the training method *can* impart martial skills over time. I also think the principals could be taught and functionalised much much quicker if we freed ourselves from the conventions of tradtional training. Maybe something I'll play with in my older age....

Mark Uttech 02-06-2007 04:58 AM

Re: I Need Aikido ?'s Answered PLEASE!
 
katatetori, or 'wrist grab', is a place to practice from 'when you are already caught'. Sometimes it is expressed as: "basically, if you are already caught, you are already dead." Realistically then, it is a good place to start practicing from.

In gassho,

Mark

Amir Krause 02-06-2007 05:43 AM

Re: I Need Aikido ?'s Answered PLEASE!
 
Quote:

Arthur Capone wrote:
So, in your opinion, if someone wants to hurt me, lifts their fists up in a boxing stance, and starts trying to hit me, Aikido is not able to deal with this?

First off, I have a comment that sounds very foolish at first, but holds some greater truth if you bother and think about it in some depth:

Aikido does not deal with anything. No Aikido fighter will magically appear if you are under attack. It is you who will have to fight for yourself!

Aikido will not turn you into another person so fast. If you are a great athletic and tends toward aggressiveness while fighting, you will maintain these attributes even after you have learned Aikido. If by nature you prefer recline from violent action and feel great fear, those features of your personality will still be there even after you learn Aikido.

At higher levels, after lots of years of fighting. You might be able to notice some changes and refinements of your personality due to your Aikido practice. For example: you may find Aikido affects the strategies you tend towards. After almost 17 years of practice (about half my life), I am still very careful in considering those.

Aikido has a wide spectrum of responses for any situation, including boxing types attacks. It is your personality which will determine your own choices for reaction to such states. Exactly as your personality will determine your choice of Aikido teachers and the right Dojo for you to prosper in (I doubt a person will be able to stay and prosper in a Dojo that has a very different ethos then his own).

Punches and even kicks can be practiced as part of the Aikido curriculum. In the Dojo I practice Korindo Aikido at, we practice punches as frequently as we practice both strikes and grabs together. I doubt there is any real reason not to have the same approach in a Ueshiba Aikido dojo.

One should understand that grabs, strikes and committed attacks have quite a few advantages as training tools, as they provide easy emphasis on specific elements. As such these attacks are essential to learning Aikido, but one could utilize his knowledge of Aikido to face any attack, and it will be Aikido.
Some teachers prefer to stay with the symbolic attacks, and not to refer to self-defense situations directly. These teachers would tell you that once you "truly" understand the principles taught in the symbolic training, you should be able to apply them to any situation that arises, including boxing, combinations and anything else. They would point you to the infinity of possible attacks, and claim adding a few more examples would not change your need of generalizing the knowledge to other new attacks (Capuera style attacks for example).
Other teachers will prefer to help you in the generalization process, by giving you more examples of the common world. Good teachers would acknowledge they can never teach you response A to situation B, since the situations are infinite and as you progress you will learn that supposedly minor changes can have significant implications and require you to change your choices completely.

Hope this helps in some way.

Amir

Joe Bowen 02-06-2007 06:02 AM

Re: I Need Aikido ?'s Answered PLEASE!
 
Nice response Amir! Arthur, you're over rationalizing your aikido training and you have not even begun it yet. Heed Micheal Varins advice and join a dojo. To paraphrase yourself, "you don't get it". And you won't get it, by reading the books, or posting on the aikiweb, unless you practice.

If you're in NYC, I would personally recommend you go to the New York Aikikai on 142 West 18th Street. They're good people who do great aikido.

Kevin Leavitt 02-06-2007 01:50 PM

Re: I Need Aikido ?'s Answered PLEASE!
 
Great post all:

Amir, only comment, and not directed at you by any means...simply paraphrasing what a piece of your post to elaborate on.

Quote:

These teachers would tell you that once you "truly" understand the principles taught in the symbolic training, you should be able to apply them to any situation that arises, including boxing, combinations and anything else.
One has to be careful treading in these waters. Most aikido teachers train in theory and principle and NOT in reality...aikido is principle and philosophically centered more so than practical. Teachers that say this, may not intentionally mean that you can transfer you skills learned in aikido directly to the street....but to the inexperienced...they may take this to mean that you can take your training directly to the street and apply it. Theory is a long stretch to reality. It may work...or it may not.

I don't think though that overall that aikido does well as a methodolgy for preparing one to deal with the stress and range of pain, emotions, and environment of a fight.

Teachers that illude to this or allow this perception to carry on freely in their dojo without proper caution, mentoring, or guidance are being irresponsbile IMO.

I think we cross our wires a great deal in aikido training, sometime unintentionally.

I will tell you that I did not learn to fight in aikido, but learned a great deal about principles and correct body posture, alignment, movement, breathing, response...and a host of other things compassion and control as well.

I am pretty much self taught for the last two years in MMA and BJJ, with the occassional instructor here or there, my background in aikido was very helpful. Last weekend I competed in the European BJJ Championship, took 4th in Open and the Gold for my Weight Category, (Blue Belt).

My skills learned in aikido were a big part of my success.

I am learning how to fight..by fighting and grappling...not by doing aikido.

Aikido is good at teaching aikido, there is much documentation out there about what it will do for you by O'sensei and his many shihans. It is a wonderful art if you focus on the goals and lessons that they are teaching you.

If however, you, really are concerned with self defense, fighting, or anything else..then there are shorter, more productive ways to spend your time.

I'd refer you to the dog brothers www.dogbrothers.com for sticks and blunt object fighting. Any number of MMA schools for grappling and fighting,.

Most people though, when you get down to it...are not really concerned with fighting...only conquering or supressing the fear with an illusion or a few hours a week of nightly training. They say they are....but if they were...then they would honestly seek out proper trainng and would not shy away from it when presented with it. (check out the Dog Brothers website to get an idea of the intensity of training that they present)

We should NOT however, transfer our desires, fears, or illusions onto arts such as aikido, because it is not fair to you, the others you train with, or the reputation of the art.

Figure out what it is that you really deeply want to do, why you want to do it, and then figure out the best path to achieve that endstate.

One good way to do this is to simply "let go" and begin to practice something instead of being concerned about what is right.

I have studied, Tae Kwon Do, Karate, Tai Chi, Aikido, some Ba Gua, BJJ, MMA, and a few other things. In all of them, I gained valuable skills and experiences. Nothing wrong with doing it for a while and then stopping and trying something else. Perspective is good, and training gives you time to think and grow.

Keith R Lee 02-06-2007 05:27 PM

Re: I Need Aikido ?'s Answered PLEASE!
 
Quote:

Kevin Leavitt wrote:
Most people though, when you get down to it...are not really concerned with fighting...only conquering or suppressing the fear with an illusion or a few hours a week of nightly training. They say they are....but if they were...then they would honestly seek out proper training and would not shy away from it when presented with it. (check out the Dog Brothers website to get an idea of the intensity of training that they present)

We should NOT however, transfer our desires, fears, or illusions onto arts such as aikido, because it is not fair to you, the others you train with, or the reputation of the art.

That about nails it on the head I think.

We're soooo close to "that" thread here lately. So close...

Also, congrats on the Gold! That's awesome.

Aristeia 02-06-2007 11:52 PM

Re: I Need Aikido ?'s Answered PLEASE!
 
well done on the result Keven mah fren.....excellent effort!

heathererandolph 02-07-2007 10:43 AM

Re: I Need Aikido ?'s Answered PLEASE!
 
Maybe you have not found the right school yet. If you have reservations, maybe there is a reason other than that the attacks seem unrealistic. On the other hand, maybe you should attend some sessions. Some aikido techniques can be modified for more modern attacks.

I think that you are putting the cart before the horse saying you want to dedicate your life to Aikido before you even know if you are going to keep doing Aikido long term! Even though a lot of the attacks in Aikido may not be realistic, I think you can still learn concepts that can help you if you are attacked. I don't think any martial art can teach you to defend you self against any attack.

Do you think you will be attacked anytime soon? I say, jump into it. All this intellectualizing...get going!

Choku Tsuki 02-07-2007 03:30 PM

Re: I Need Aikido ?'s Answered PLEASE!
 
One of our members just retired from the NYPD; he used to handle domestic disputes. He HAS been attacked shomenuchi; the woman had a frying pan.

Anyway, what I get out of defending against shomenuchi is timing my irimi just right. The timing is not always perfect, but that's why I practice.

And Arthur, what made you stop after you started at 12?

--Chuck

P.S. There's a free class coming up in your area on the 17th;
follow this link - http://newyork.craigslist.org/mnh/lss/273684630.html

Joe Bowen 02-08-2007 03:44 AM

Re: I Need Aikido ?'s Answered PLEASE!
 
Quote:

Keith Lee wrote:
We're soooo close to "that" thread here lately. So close...

So close, Keith that we might as well step into it....
Quote:

Kevin Leavitt wrote:
I don't think though that overall that aikido does well as a methodolgy for preparing one to deal with the stress and range of pain, emotions, and environment of a fight.

Kevin, it actually saddens me to see you print a statement such as this. While I agree that any instructor that tells his students aikido will teach them how to fight well quickly is being irresponsible, I cannot agree with your above statement. But, rather than rehash old positions on what constitutes a fight, martial viability and self-defense, I'll just ask you to think about two things:

First in your post you mention your success in a MMA/BJJ competition (Congratulations by the way :) ) which infers success in that sporting environment is an indicator that you would be successful in a "real" fight. This pigeonholes the definition of a fight once again, excluding multiple attackers and weapons. But, I digress a bit, you also credit your aikido training as having a "big part in my success". This would seem a bit of a contradiction to the "overall" statement made above. A bit of a paradox is presented.

Secondly please review the following quote:
Quote:

Jim Sorrentino wrote:
Can aikido be an effective method of self-defense? Yes. Aikido forms the basis of many law enforcement and correctional systems unarmed self-defense programs. The key to effective self-defense training is cultivation of the proper attitude. Physical technique alone is not sufficient to prevail in a conflict. The student of aikido learns through practice that attack and defense are really one thing.

Can we ignore the testimony and observations of our fellow aikido practitioners who employ their aikido as part of their law enforcement careers?

Just food for thought. I do respect your opinion and the wisdom that breadth of your experiences in various martial arts has brought you. I hope you find a deeper value in your aikido training.

Michael Varin 02-08-2007 06:46 PM

Re: I Need Aikido ?'s Answered PLEASE!
 
Quote:

Chuck Kuske wrote:
One of our members just retired from the NYPD; he used to handle domestic disputes. He HAS been attacked shomenuchi; the woman had a frying pan.

Once again a traditional aikido attack employed in the "real world" and with a weapon no less. Hmmm? I wonder why?

Quote:

Joseph Bowen wrote:
This pigeonholes the definition of a fight once again, excluding multiple attackers and weapons.

Good point.

Quote:

Joseph Bowen wrote:
Quote:

Jim Sorrentino wrote:
Can aikido be an effective method of self-defense? Yes. Aikido forms the basis of many law enforcement and correctional systems unarmed self-defense programs. The key to effective self-defense training is cultivation of the proper attitude.

Can we ignore the testimony and observations of our fellow aikido practitioners who employ their aikido as part of their law enforcement careers?

Law enforcement situations cannot be said to be self-defense, because it is their chosen profession to go to the danger, while in self-defense avoidance is primary. Also, police are almost always armed with several weapons (pepper spray, flashlight, baton, taser, knife, gun), so they seldom face truly unarmed situations. Police tend not to engage one-on-one either. Aikido techniques and strategies find much more usefulness in the way that police use them, than the guy who is trying to fit them into a one-on-one barehanded scenario.


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